On This Day: Lee Ann Womack Begins 5-Week Reign at No. 1 With ‘I Hope You Dance’ in 2000

by Jim Casey
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Lee Ann Womack topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with her smash hit, “I Hope You Dance,” on July 8, 2000. Lee Ann’s emotionally charged ballad went on to win the CMA Single of the Year in 2000 and the ACM Song of the Year and Single of the Year in 2001.

Texas native Lee Ann Womack broke onto the country music scene with her 1997 self-titled debut album. The Platinum-certified collection featured two Top 5 hits, “The Fool” (No. 2) and “You’ve Got to Talk to Me” (No. 2). Likewise, Lee Ann’s 1998 sophomore album, Some Things I Know, included two Top 5 hits, “A Little Past Little Rock” (No. 2) and “I’ll Think of a Reason Later” (No. 2).

Lee Ann had come close to scoring her first chart-topper four separate times. In 2000, she would not be denied again.

Lee Ann Womack released “I Hope You Dance” in March 2000. Penned by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, the tune served as the lead single and title track to Lee Ann’s third studio album, which dropped in May.

Lee Ann Dances to the Top

“The song came from a difficult time,” said Tia Sillers to Country Weekly in 2001. “I had just broken up with someone, and it was a very devastating thing to face. I was vacationing in Florida in the summer of 1999 and calling my mom—about every other day. One day she said, ‘I hope your joy will break through.’ She hoped I would figure out a way to be positive again. I stood on the beach and realized how small I felt. Okay, I was being a little melodramatic. But then that line, ‘I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,’ came to me. I started thinking that the ocean, nature, all those things would outlast my pain.”

Tia brought the line to Mark D. Sanders when they met for a writing session that September.

“She came up with several different lines like that,” Mark D. Sanders recalled. “I guess I was smart enough to say ‘yes’ to them. We came up with the chorus part at lunch. When we got back to my office, I started strumming the guitar and we wrote the melody. It’s actually one of the easiest songs to write that I’ve ever been a part of. I can’t tell you how many people have said that this song changed their lives.”

Four months after its release, “I Hope You Dance” topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The tune reigned supreme for five weeks, becoming one of the biggest hits of 2000. The song also crossed over to the all-genre Billboard 100 chart, where it peaked at No. 14. To this day, “I Hope You Dance” remains Lee Ann’s lone chart-topping hit.

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